Greece has been locked in talks with European leaders on and off all year, wrangling over the terms of its vital financial bailout. Ahead of a June 30 deadline, Greece submitted a proposed compromise on Monday.
In short – Greece relies on bailout money to keep its weak economy going, but it is opposed to the dramatic spending cuts that European leaders say it must carry out in return for getting the money.
Athens points to the fact that its economy has shrunk by a quarter since the bailouts began as evidence that the cuts being asked of it are too harsh. Greece is also tied with Spain for having the highest youth unemployment rate in the eurozone – the bloc of 19 countries that use the euro. Over half of those under 25 are out of work.
On June 30, Greece has a deadline to repay a roughly $1.8 billion loan to the International Monetary Fund and its current rescue package expires on the same day. Athens and the eurozone leaders are therefore scrambling to make a deal before then, which would allow a final $8.2 billion chunk of bailout money to be released. You can read our longer explainer on the situation here.
In the meantime, the graffiti that have sprung up around Athens speak volume about how people in Greece feel. One big recurring theme is that Europe’s richer countries are bullying Greece into making cuts.
There’s particular anger towards Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, which has in particular stuck to the view that Greece spends without thinking. Angela Merkel pops up in various murals.
Another theme is the fear that Greece will be forced to leave the euro if the bailout talks fail. No one has left the single currency before, and so everyone is nervous about what a so-called “Grexit” could mean for both sides.
Alexis Tsipras, the young prime minister whose left-wing party swept to power in January vowing to stand up to Europe over cuts, remains popular despite his lack of a breakthrough thus far, the Financial Times reported this month.
Some people are simply asking the leaders of the eurozone to show some sympathy – further cuts to retired people's pensions are the biggest hurdle in the current round of talks, the Guardian reported at the weekend.
And others are asking the eurozone to maybe just lighten up a bit.
Shyamantha Asokan is a foreign news reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Shyamantha Asokan at email@example.com.
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